Sleepy Services Inc.
There is something particularly fresh about the direction Oxford pop duo Sleeper Service are moving in. Where previous projects constructed songs that resembled the wistful sensitivity of a Palace and Great Grandpa, latest single 'Almond Butter' is the most surprising stylistic shift the two have made yet. Being their fourth single released in 2020, it might have been expected to hear 'Almond Butter' stick to the comfortable alt/soft/rock blend that previous efforts have stuck firmly to. Instead, this latest track is Sleeper Service turned firmly pop, and I think it's a space that the duo fit much better.
Gregory Munday and Tom Keogh are gifted vocalists. The quality of their sung performances have carried their songs in their past, elevating their songwriting to a level of respectability just through the sheer ability of the two as singers. I maintain that I'd prefer to see Sleeper Service approach their songwriting a little more experimentally with previous singles perhaps too content with being functional tunes, but that being said I do think the two are at their shining best on 'Almond Butter.'
There's a real step-up in production value on this latest single. Acoustic guitars and electronic percussion connect so well on the track, and Keogh and Munday have never sounded this pristine. Before now, I've wanted a bit more grit and personality in the two's reliably immaculate performances, but if 'Almond Butter' symbolises a move away from alt-rock and into more pop-oriented music, then the perfect vocal control of these two singers is perfectly suited to this shift in genre.
Again, these two are fucking good singers. The harmonies during each prechorus are perfect, and really lock in with one of the more interesting chord progressions I've heard from my favourite sleepy boys. The vocals through [1:28-2:07] are downright perfect, and I am happy to say that these melodies have pleasantly remained stuck in my head for days now.
In terms of criticisms, the guitar solo feels a little pointless, almost as if it's purposefully attempting to extend a track that would've felt perfect at the sub-3 minute mark. I love the final bridge, particularly in its Bastille-reminiscence, and I do wish that it could've taken the place of an underwhelming guitar solo. Whether the final chorus was necessary is debatable. I've always had a biased attraction to songs that end quickly, and I wonder if 'Almond Butter' could've benefited from the same kind of brevity that made me fall in love with tracks like Field Medic and Pickleboy's 'talkin johnny & june', or The Crudes' 'W.C.E.L.' this year.
Either way, this is easily the best song Sleeper Service have released this year. It might be the best they've ever made, and this group are showing an increasingly impressive amount of potential. The shift to pop is one that I think really suits the wonderful perfection of Keogh and Munday's deliveries, but doesn't shut the door on alt-rock completely. There is something brewing in Oxfordshire, and you best not sleep on the service.
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Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and co-edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based at the University of Oxford. He is also a Fleet Foxes shill.
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